Source Reduction versus Discharge Reduction

The EPA has taken a strong position on pollution prevention by regarding source reduction as the only true pollution prevention activity and treating recycling as an option. Industry's position prior to the act (and effectively unchanged since) was to reduce the discharge of pollutant waste into the environment in the most cost-effective manner. This objective is achieved in some cases by source reduction, in others by recycling, in others by treatment and disposal, and usually in a combination of these methods. For this reason, this handbook examines all options in the pollution prevention hierarchy.

Traditionally, regulations change, with more stringent controls enacted over time. Therefore, source reduction and perhaps recycling and reuse (instead of treatment or disposal) may become more economically attractive in the future.

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